Lydia X. Z. Brown is a queer, disabled, and East Asian advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist, and writer. They are the Director of Public Policy at the National Disability Institute, which works to advance economic opportunity and freedom for people with disabilities. Brown is also the founding Executive Director of the Autistic People of Color Fund, which advocates for disability, racial, and economic justice with a focus on building generative economies and just transition while providing mutual aid, peer support, and community-funded reparations. They bring nearly 15 years of experience as a committed advocate, community organizer, and policy expert at the nexus of disability rights and disability justice. Brown has spoken, facilitated, and consulted internationally and throughout the U.S. on a range of topics related to disability rights and disability justice, especially at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and has published in numerous scholarly and community publications. Their work addresses the deep interconnections between ableism and other forms of systemic discrimination, marginalization, and oppression, and has often focused on interpersonal, state, and corporate violence, deprivation, and exploitation targeting disabled people at the margins of the margins.
Brown holds a lecturer appointment in the Women's and Gender Studies Program and the Disability Studies Program at Georgetown University, as well as serving as Self-Advocacy Discipline Coordinator for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Fellowship program at the Georgetown University Medical Center. They are also an adjunct professorial lecturer in American Studies in the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. Brown serves as Vice Chair and Past President of the Disability Rights Bar Association and Disability Justice Committee representative on the National Lawyers Guild board. They are currently creating Disability Justice Wisdom Tarot.
Brown was formerly Policy Counsel for Privacy & Data at the Center for Democracy & Technology, focused on algorithmic discrimination and disability; and Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. They are a former member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, visiting faculty at Tufts University, and chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. Often, their most important work has no title, job description, or funding, and probably never will.
Why Disability Justice is an Intersectional Imperative for Our Futures and Our Freedom
Neurodivergent, crip, mad, and disabled people are already present in all of our communities. Yet we face the constant presence of pervasive ableism (disability prejudice and oppression), reinforced and intersecting with other forms of systemic injustice. Disabled people are working constantly to challenge the narratives that we do not belong in society, and to demand recognition and respect for disabled people's ways of knowing, being, learning, and relating. Disability justice analysis enables us to understand the necessary role of ableism in shaping social thought, research, and policy about race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation - and to challenge arbitrary notions of "normal" and "wellness" that undergird oppressive systems and influence our everyday lives. Disability Justice principles and practices offer radical and revolutionary ways of reimagining our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the communities where we live, work, and learn. Disability Justice goes beyond the frameworks of equity, inclusion, and diversity, and challenges us to incorporate multimodality, flexibility, and interdependence into our workplaces, research agendas, technologies, design, and communities.
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